Making peace by ending violence
When we are the wicked
Rev. Eric Markman
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground.
Reflection: What happens when we might be the wicked?
In November 2018, I participated in a Peacemaking Travel Study Seminar to Korea, hosted by loving and hospitable church partners. The Korean peninsula has been a pawn in the hands of powerful nations for centuries. Occupied by Russia, China, Japan, and now a launching point for the U.S. Navy, there has hardly been a time that Koreans have been able to fully make political decisions for themselves.
We visited Jeju Island, where we learned about the April 3 uprising: a seven-year period (1947–1954) of human rights violations, mass killings, and atrocities committed by the Korean national police force and military. All this took place, uninterrupted, under the watchful eye of the U.S. military.
We also visited No Gun Ri, the site of a horrific massacre at the beginning of the Korean war. Believing the civilians to be communists, the U.S. military killed 250-300 people, mostly women and children, as they sought shelter under a railroad bridge.
We met with a survivor who was a young boy at the time of the massacre. Tears ran down our cheeks as he told us his story. We slowly came to understand that behind the breath-taking beauty of the Korean landscape and the friendliness and welcome of the Korean people, there is a history of heartbreak and outside political manipulation. Most sobering of all, we had to admit that we who live in the United States are complicit in that history.
Action: Following the path of Jesus involves meeting and learning from strangers. That may mean traveling to another country or another part of town. We may meet them in a local soup kitchen or the basement of a church that welcomes refugees. Today, ask a stranger to tell you about their life, their sorrows, their joys. Once you have sat down and listened to their story, you won’t be strangers anymore.
Prayer: O Lamb of God, the one who leaves the ninety-nine to seek the one, give us the strength to venture outside our comfort zones to meet those we do not know. Open our ears that we might listen to their stories. And as we hear those stories, strengthen us that we might enter with them in the struggle to end violence in our world. Amen.
Rev. Markman is pastor of Hartford Presbyterian Church in Natick, MA. He deeply enjoys the ministry and is married to Rev. Cindy Kohlmann.
This year’s A Season of Peace Resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the 29 days of this year’s Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
- What does it mean to commit to Peace?
- Making peace by addressing root causes of poverty
- Making peace by disrupting systematic racism
- Making peace by ending violence
- Making peace by supporting refugees and migrants
- Partaking in peace in worship and at table this World Communion Sunday and through the Peace & Global Witness Offering
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 1, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 6.